August 20, 2022

The People Who Have Influenced My Design Practice and Leadership 

Throughout my career, I’ve been influenced and inspired by many people, books, and experiences that have shaped my approach to the work. But there are a few who’s philosophy and perspectives have become part of my designer DNA and ethos.

By internalizing their teachings and perspective and evolving from them, I can attribute the foundation of my design practice and leadership to these influential people, who continue to inspire me and constantly renew my passion for design:

Charles and Ray Eames

“The details are not the details. They make the product.”

Not only were Ray and Charles an amazing couple well known for their modern furniture design, they pioneered work in film, environments, textiles, and architecture, and pushed the boundaries of what design means and could be. Their bar for quality and attention to detail are why I exude the mantra that the details are what separates good from great.

When asked by Madame L’Amic, curator of the exhibition “Qu’est ce que le design? (What is Design?)” at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais de Louvre in 1972, Charles Eames responds:

Q: “What are the boundaries of Design?”
A: “What are the boundaries of problems?”

Bruce Mau

“Design is the ability to imagine a future and systematically execute that vision. So if you think about what all designers do, they’re all futurists. They’re all thinking about what’s going to happen. They’re going to make something new happen in the world. They’re all trying to make the world a better place. I’ve yet to meet a designer who wakes up in the morning thinking, “I think we could do something worse.” That’s not our mandate. That ability to create a vision is one of the most powerful tools that a designer has. We don’t really understand how powerful it is — it’s an incredible power to create the future by showing somebody what it looks like.”

If you haven’t read Massive Change and MA24 — do it.

Dieter Rams

Dieter is a goldmine of quotes and inspiration, especially his ten principles for good design. Modern, minimal, and timeless, his “as little design as possible” philosophy always has me pushing teams to find the elegance in a solution, paring it back to its essence. Distill complexity, expose simplicity. But I find his approach to life and expectations for designers even more intriguing.

“Good designers must always be avant-gardists, always one step ahead of the times. They should — and must — question everything generally thought to be obvious. They must have an intuition for people’s changing attitudes. For the reality in which they live, for their dreams, their desires, their worries, their needs, their living habits.They must also be able to assess realistically the opportunities and bounds of technology.”

Brigitte Borja de Mozota

“Design is a management tool that creates differentiation in the internal capabilities of the company. Design is no longer seen as the output of design-form, but as a creative and management process that can be integrated into other organization processes, such as idea management, innovation management, and research and development management, and that modifies the traditional structure of process management in a company.”

Brigitte is a researcher in management science, and wrote one of the first books I read on Design Management, which became my handbook. Her work on The Four Powers of Design clearly outlines a balanced scorecard approach to measuring and communicating Design’s impact.

These leaders have shaped my design leadership approach, my practice, and inspired me to shape the world around me. I hope by sharing this it will move others to learn more about them and become inspired themselves.

August 14, 2020

Embracing Change

Sharing this quote from Bruce Mau, co-founder of The Massive Change Network. When you're leading transformation, it's all too easy to not acknowledge what is already working.

How do you help people embrace change?

Here’s a good rule of thumb: for every one change initiative, create two celebrations of what’s already working. Emphasis on what’s working may seem redundant, but it often reflects a neglected reality — and the effect is to create a “field of safety” that makes change easier to accept.

Before people can embrace innovation, they need to feel safe. Therefore, the best way to foster change is to reinforce stability. In our rush to initiate change, we often ignore what’s already working. We take it for granted. If you want to fix what’s wrong, first celebrate what’s right and expand it where you can. Before building new structures, recognize the ones that are fine as they are. Applaud success and accomplishments. And make this celebration visible: be sure that people see it.”

— from Mau: MC24

June 25, 2020

The Business Impact of Design

I had the pleasure of being interviewed for Forrester's report The Business Impact of Design, which was published in June and recently promoted by InVision.

Envisioning and designing great experiences is only one lens of design leadership — you have to be able to demonstrate the business impact your work is having. Without that, it's just a shiny object.

February 28, 2020

Design is a Business Tool

As we evolve to an environment where design is a verb, organizations move into a level of maturity that peels away from Design is form-giving and a service, to Design is strategy. It’s no longer simply designing the app or the website, making the thing — it’s crafting the end-to-end customer journey and experience.

To our clients, all of our touchpoints are one experience — one brand.

This is an important POV to remember as we partner across the enterprise to raise the bar, focusing on experiences that truly resonate with our clients, and foster a customer-centric culture at its core.

Design is a business tool that makes strategy visible.

December 6, 2019

Anticipatory Design

Anticipatory design is all about creating delightful experiences by understanding user needs and reducing decision fatigue. Design that’s one step ahead of you, leveraging past choices to predict future decisions. But how much should the system lean in — how do you ensure it feels smart instead of creepy? How do you balance autonomy and clarity? What is the cost of being wrong?

The Next Big Thing In Design? Less Choice
Crafting Smarter Interfaces with Anticipatory Design
Anticipatory Design: How to Create Magical User Experiences
The Psychology of Anticipatory Design
Anticipatory Design: The Future of UX Design
UX Patterns of the Future: Anticipatory Design
How to Get Anticipatory Design Right
Anticipatory design — Create smart, delightful user experiences (video)
Anticipatory design in financial services

October 11, 2019

Human-Centered Design Drives Transformation

Human-centered design and innovation drives transformation. It’s based on the observation that the usefulness and desirability of a product or service isn’t determined by its technological sophistication, but whether people experience it as a valuable addition to their lives. It doesn’t just embrace customer-centricity, but puts designing for people at the heart of the entire process. It goes beyond designing for form and function, and extends the potential by designing for experience (e.g. meaning). Design becomes a key competitive advantage.

One of the challenging aspects of becoming design-driven is that it requires seamlessly streamlining people, processes, technology, and funding. It requires fundamentally transforming the way an organization is structured and how it works, but also demands a cultural mindset shift. A transformation that yields measurable positive impact to both customers and the business.

Competing on customer experience: How the value proposition of design is changing
The forgotten step in leading large-scale change
The Digital Transformation is a Design Transformation
Building a design-driven culture
6 Ways to Build a Customer-Centric Culture
The Right Way to Lead Design Thinking
5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Design Team

September 27, 2019

Behavioral Science in Experience Design

Changing behavior doesn’t happen overnight. Behavioral science is having a popularity surge as more realize its importance in designing experiences. As part of that trend, behavioral economics is gaining headlines highlighting that human decisions are not always rational — especially when dealing with money. How can we create experiences that will encourage people to make better financial decisions? What role do we [or should we] play in that aspect of people’s lives?

Coming soon: Netflix-style nudges that reward retail bank customers
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
Designing for Behavior Change: Applying Psychology and Behavioral Economics
Leveraging The Power of Behavioral Science in Banking
Why Behavior Change Is the Key to True Financial Wellness
With Timeful Acquisition, Google Aims To Supercharge Its Apps’ Time-Management Smarts
Two Years Later, Walmart’s Prize Savings Helps Customers Save $2 Billion
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
Dan Ariely Ted Talks

August 30, 2019

Explicit Value Exchange Creates the Flywheel

When customers understand a clear value exchange, they are willing to pay for it. Amazon Prime started with 2-day free shipping that has evolved into something so much more. It’s really about changing customer behavior through reduced friction, in turn making Amazon the default choice. How can banks create their version of Amazon Prime that can deliver distinct value to customers while remaining simple? And how does that enable them to win the emerging battle to be the default?

Disruptive Interfaces & The Emerging Battle To Be The Default
Digital Banking Creates ‘Amazon Prime’ Opportunity
Banking Needs An ‘Amazon Prime’ Marketing Strategy
Amazon Virtuous Cycle
The making of Amazon Prime, the internet’s most successful and devastating membership program

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